Did Putin really offer Duterte Russian Anti- COVID-19 vaccine for free?

President Duterte prides himself of being a man true to his words.

Although VERA Files fact checks belie this, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and see to it that he makes good his promise made during his late-night briefing last Aug. 11 to be the first to be tested with the Russian vaccine.

He offered to be injected publicly of the anti-COVID-19 vaccine that Russia will be producing. In his press briefing he made it appear that Russia will be giving the vaccine to the Philippines for free.

This was what Duterte said: “And then maligayang-maligaya ako kasi ang Russia kaibigan natin ito. Hindi tayo kalaban. Wala tayong away sa Russia. Kaibigan natin. Ang ano nila is magbigay sila ng bakuna. Wala naman silang sinasabi ‘bayaran mo.( I’m so happy because Russia is our friend. We are not enemies. We have no quarrel with Russis. They are our friends. What they want is to give us vaccine. They did not say ‘You pay.’ )”

“Ito tingin ko kay President Putin tulong niya sa atin, libre. Kaya ngayon tinatanggap natin at kung ano ang supply mag-usap pa kami kung ilan ang supply at kailangan natin ma — may clinical ano ‘yan, clinical studies na. (This is how I see President Putin, he is helping us, free. That’s why we are accepting it. What is the supply, we will talk about the quantity of the supply and what we need – there’s clinical , what’s that, clinial studies already.)”

He said Russia did not say “bayaran mo.” But he did not say Russia said “We will be giving the vaccine for you to for free. You don’t have to pay.”

It’s just Duterte’s imagination that Russian President Putin will give the vaccine for free.

The Department of Foreign Affairs statement was simply, “The DFA conveys its appreciation for Russia’s willingness to assist the Philippines in its fight against COVID-19, as well as its offer to supply the SARS-COV-2 vaccine developed by N.F. Gamaleya of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. The offer has been referred to the appropriate agencies for proper assessment and evaluation.”

There was no mention about Russia supplying the Philippines a vaccine against COVID-19 for free.

Duterte offered the Filipinos to be Russia’s guinea pig in its search for the anti-COVID-19 vaccine. He said: “Well, mag-injection muna tayo ng iilan tapos tignan natin ang resulta. Ang ano niyan is you will be given the vaccine and ang reaction ng katawan mo kung tatanggapin ba o hindi. Iyan ang ano diyan. So there will be volunteers. (Well, some will be injected, then we’ll see the result. What happens is you will be given the vaccine and the reaction of the body, whether it will be accepted or not. That’s the ..So, there will be volunteers.)”

We are not privy to what stage of the clinical trial is the Russian vaccine. Has it gone the stage of laboratory test with rats or other animals?

Duterte said he trusts Putin so much he is volunteering to be Russia’s guinea pig: “Ako, pagdating ng bakuna, in public, para walang satsat diyan, in public magpa-injection ako. Ako ‘yung maunang ma-eksperimentuhan. Okay para sa akin. That’s my (I, when the vaccine comes in public, no more ifs and buts, in public, I will have myself injected. I will be the first one to be experimented on. That’s okay with me.)

Sabihin ko rin kay President Putin na tiwalang — malaki ang tiwala ko sa pag-aa (I will tell President Putin that I trust – I have big trust)— your studies in combatting COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity

Kaya ako para ipakita ko sa kanila na nagtiwala ako at hindi sila nagkamali nag-offer, ako pagdating, ‘yung doktor nila o doktor natin, ako ang unang magpabakuna. Tingnan natin kung puwede ba. Kung puwede sa akin, puwede sa lahat (That’s why for me to show them that I trust and they didn’t make a mistake, I when their doctor comes, I will the first one to get vaccinated.)”

Okay. Let’s remember this. Let this be a grand public event. Our courageous leader will be the first to get the vaccine from Russia.

Let’s make sure that he will not back out like what he did with his “Jetski to Spratlys” presidential election campaign boast only to say “It was a hyperbole” when he was preparing to see Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.